7 Things We Loved About Gooseneck State Park… and 2 Things We Didn’t – Vanlife Utah

Gooseneck State Park is a tiny little State Park in Utah with HUGE views. It’s perched on the edge of the San Juan River, which over the last 300 million years, has carved a sinuous path 1000 feet down into the desert floor to create mesmerizing gooseneck-shaped structures.

I had originally wanted to visit Horseshoe Bend, a similar and more famous canyon structure carved by the Colorado River in nearby Page, Arizona. But when I heard the Goosenecks described as “a little Horseshoe Bend without the crowds and with more bends”, I knew it would be the place for us.

I had seen many photos of the goosenecks so I thought I knew what to expect, but the images don’t do this place justice. They don’t seem capable of capturing the sweeping views in all directions, or the fact that from any distance the canyon disappears and can only truly be enjoyed from standing right on its precipitous ledges. This place blew our minds!

We enjoyed Gooseneck State Park so much, I’m devoting an entire post to what we loved about it, and why you might want to add it to your camping bucket list. For those of you seriously thinking about visiting, we’re tempering your expectations by including the 2 things we didn’t love.

7 Things We Loved

#1 Admiring & Taking Photos of the Goosenecks

… all day, all night, and from every possible angle. Yes, I have at least 100 gooseneck photos. These are a few of my favourites:

#2 Soaking In the Surrounding Views To …

  • Alhambra Rock, towering above the surrounding desert floor. It changes colour throughout the day as the sun moves.
  • Monument Valley, looming on the hazy horizon. Yes, it’s THE Monument Valley where Forrest Gump finally decided it was time to stop running.
  • the multi-coloured cliffs behind the Park. They are unremarkable until sunset, when the sun hits them directly, setting them ablaze with pink and orange hues.
  • the neighbour’s fifth wheel. Ok, that view was a little less exciting, lol.
Alhambra Rock
Monument Valley
Multi-Coloured Cliffs
View of the Sunset… & the Neighbours

#3 Camping On the Canyon Edge

… so close, in fact, that we were able to peer down into the San Juan River from our dinner table. Unbelievably, campers are allowed to park as close to the canyon edge as they like. The Internet advises visitors not to camp at the canyon’s edge due to dangers posed by strong winds. WHAT? Where else would you camp in this magnificent place! I do believe we won the award for being closest to the canyon edge without going over.

Can You Spot Sally?

We loved that the Park is primitive and undeveloped. We also loved that it costs only $10/night. It never felt crowded despite there being many other campers around.

#4 Wandering Along the Paths and Dirt Roads

… which lead to various look-offs along the canyon rim. And of course, getting views and photos from those look-offs. If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right – it’s all about the views!

Waiting with my camera for the perfect evening light

#5 Bringing Walter With Us Everywhere

Yes, this State Park is very dog-friendly! We always appreciate that.

#6 Discovering the Local Flora & Fauna

Most of the lizards were shy, but this guy was happy to pose for me all day.

#7 Being Close to So Many of the Area’s Other Attractions

… including the famous Monument Valley, the stunning Valley of the Gods, and the dramatic Moki Dugway Scenic Drive.

Selfie at Valley of the Gods… more about that in the next post!

2 Things We Didn’t Love

No place is perfect, right? We 100% recommend a visit to this Park but to be balanced, here are the only 2 things we didn’t love about it.

#1 The Park is Tiny…

… and aside from staring at the goosenecks, taking 1000s of photos, and wandering around the canyon top, there’s not a lot to do. It’s a perfect spot to spend a night or two, but that’s enough. And in fact, 2 nights is the maximum permitted stay, so it works out.

When we ran out of paths to walk on, we just started wandering down the road

#2 The Surrounding Desert Offers Zero Protection from the Wind

… which is ferocious when it whips up, sending dust flying and everyone scrambling to secure their awnings and outdoor chairs. I was truly concerned at one point during our second night that the van might be blown over the edge of the canyon with us in it. But to be fair, we’ve had insanely windy conditions throughout most of southern Utah.

Stay Tuned

In the next post, we compare Utah’s Monument Valley with the Valley of the Gods, and share which one we think is best for you!

4 thoughts on “7 Things We Loved About Gooseneck State Park… and 2 Things We Didn’t – Vanlife Utah

  1. The wind: definitely the worst part of camping in the southwest! We did it in a tent in 2012. The closest we got to Gooseneck that time was Four Corners, but we do want to get back there to see more of Utah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The struggle with wind is real here! I can’t imagine being in a tent. We’ve been so grateful to have the van for that reason.


  2. Oh once again you trigger the adventure in me, I enjoy your travels so much. Sheila and I travelled in the same style sans the dog. I have not been to this area but we saw many of the canyon parks in Arizona and Utah. Bryson Canyon was by far my favourite I am sure you have already seen if not go see it. It is warming up and yesterday we had our first MG recent and it was so exhilarating to have the wind in your and the open road over the hood. Take care and as always chase your adventures.


    1. Hi Brian, Glad you enjoyed the blog! Your comment is timely because we’ve been thinking about hitting Bryce Canyon on our way north. You’re the second person recently who has mentioned that Bryce was their favourite. I think we’ll try to spend a day or two doing some hikes there. Unfortunately, we have to take turns hiking in the National Parks as dogs aren’t allowed on the trails. Glad to hear that the weather is improving back home!


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